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Blue Bottle Changes Ownership with $20 Million Investment

Blue Bottle Coffee has new ownership, as a group of high-profile investors known as True Ventures has invested nearly $20 million in the company.

James Freeman

Blue Bottle, which gained prominence by helping introduce siphon brewing to the Bay Area and has since expanded into New York, will now be run by Bryan Meehan, who will act as new president and CEO. Kohlberg Ventures, the investment group that got behind Blue Bottle in 2008, no longer has a stake in the company.

According to numerous reports, James Freeman, who founded the company, will continue to work closely with the new ownership. “I’m still going to make decisions about where or if we open new shops, what the new shops look like, what the new shops feel like,” Freeman told Oliver Strand of the New York Times. “I’m still going to be in charge of what kind of coffee we should buy, how much should we buy.”

Meehan’s previous ventures include growing Fresh & Wild, an organic supermarket chain acquired by Whole Foods in 2004, and developing Nude Skincare, a luxury natural skincare company acquired by LVMH in 2011. Here’s what the investment group had to say about its foray into the coffee business:

As early stage tech investors, Blue Bottle might seem like a departure from True’s typical investments. But when you consider James’ attention to detail, his vision and his business sense, Blue Bottle falls right in line with True’s sweet spot. We love to invest in Founders of movements, and James is helping pioneer the “third wave” of coffee—a megatrend analogous to micro-brewing in the beer industry, in which consumers are moving to higher quality, artisanal micro-roasters, and where quality, beauty and a distinctive experience are being sought over more mainstream alternatives.

Naturally, the Blue Bottle investment is drawing comparison’s to last year’s private investment in Portland’s Stumptown. While no immediate plans for Blue Bottle have been announced, the investment undoubtedly signals significant growth for Blue Bottle.

Freeman is currently in New York promoting his book, “The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee.”